Q&A: Henry Abbott of ESPN TrueHoop

We recently had a chance to grab Henry Abbott of ESPN's True Hoop for a Warriors Q&A. He's done great work at TrueHoop, initially on his own and now as part of the worldwide leader in sports. If you don't know about TrueHoop, it's one of the best basketball sites around for news, commentary and opinion. Here's some insight on Henry's background (from the About Henry section on TrueHoop).

Henry Abbott founded TrueHoop in May 2005. Less than two years later, the posts and comments together total nearly three million words, and TrueHoop has become part of ESPN.com, where Henry is a Senior Writer.

Before this all started, Henry was a journalist whose work has appeared in HOOP, Inside Stuff, Men's Journal, the official NBA Finals program, and on CBS's national radio network. Henry wrote more than a dozen cover stories, more than a hundred feature articles, and a regular column. He has discussed sports on the air as a guest of various national and local television and radio programs.

Before becoming a full-time writer in 1998, Henry won awards as a radio reporter for CBS radio affiliate WIBA. He also wrote a number of cover stories for the Madison, WI-based weekly Isthmus. His writing and research have been featured in award-winning documentaries.

We wanted to get a fresh perspective on the Warriors and Henry fits the bill perfectly. On to the Q&A, enjoy!

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Golden State of Mind: Where does the Warriors' Cinderella story rank amongst last year's major playoff stories? What kind of influence will the Warriors' success with the run n' gun have on the rest of the league?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): Who knows what's going on in the minds of 29 other NBA coaches, but my hunch is that the main lessons there were a) this is a "how to" when it comes to defending the Mavericks with so-so defensive personnel, b) people shoot better when they are encouraged by their coach to shoot, and c) damn, that's fun to watch. Did the Warriors actually prove to the NBA that they are an elite team? Are other teams being built in their image? I suspect the answer is "no" on both counts. It was one series -- and one series that Dallas might have won if they didn't have brain lock half the series. I think people still see it as a story of kind of marvelous dream, based on the simultaneous stellar performances of Jason Richardson and Baron Davis, neither of whom has proven durable, and one of whom is now gone.


Golden State of Mind: Baron Davis. He put together an MVP performance in the first round of the playoffs last year, but he's had injury problems during the last few years. What do you expect from him this year?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): He'll always be someone who could be one of the most underrated or most overrated players in the NBA. Baron Davis at 100% is like a unicorn. Magnificent ... but seldom around. That's the key to this whole team, right? If somehow he could reel off five straight years like he just played, then we can talk about MVPs and elite team status. But it's hard to believe he'll start getting more durable and reliable now, at age 28. I hope it happens. It's something to pray for. But if history is any guide, he'll continue to be brilliant in stretches, and that doesn't get you to titletown.


Golden State of Mind: Stephen Jackson seemed to be given new life in Oakland last season. Is he for real? At certain times, he was the best player on the team with his combination of defense and hot shooting. Will we see more of the same from him or will training camp with Nellie make him even better?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): How can you love basketball and not be happy that someone has finally found a way to get the most of out Stephen Jackson? He has an amazing combination of fire, shooting ability, length, and killer instinct. Did he take all that love from Warrior fans and reciprocate with the hardest working summer of his life? Is he in great shape now? Is he a better passer, defender, and ball-handler than ever? Did he hone his shot even further? If he did all that, then he'll be awesome. If not, training camp will be way too late to start defining Stephen Jackson 2.0.


Golden State of Mind: The Jason Richarson for Brandan Wright trade came as a shock to most Warrior fans. There are 2 sides of the coin, it hurts the Warriors short term, but could potentially help the team in the long run. What do you think of the trade? Did this make the team better?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): I'm a big believer that you set up your roster with a championship in mind. I hate the idea of tweaking roster spots and contracts just to be pretty good. And I feel that the Warriors, as constructed, were on a road to be pretty good for a while. But they were not on a road to a championship. So I can live with trading away a key player or two. But was that the one to trade? He's pretty darned good when he's healthy.

Much more importantly ... did the Warriors even want Brandan Wright? Agents and various NBA insiders refuse to believe that's so. There are a million theories -- he was supposed to go to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett, Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian, anywhere for anyone -- but no one talking to me seems to think this is really the guy the Warriors wanted. Who knows. In any case, he's said to be a good dude, and one of the most talented bigs in a good draft. So it's hardly a crisis.


Golden State of Mind: The other rookie the Warriors drafted, Marco Belinelli blasted on the scene in the Vegas Summer League shooting the lights out. What do you think of him and what kind of numbers do you expect from him in his rookie season?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): That Vegas show was really fun to watch. He's just so smooth. He carries himself like a rock star, and his shot was really dialed in for a couple of games there. But he also had some pretty ordinary games, even in Summer League. And figuring out NBA referees and NBA defense will be challenges. So, I'd expect him to have some great shooting games here and there, but not to be someone who is likely to have good plus/minus numbers any time soon.


Golden State of Mind: This takes us to the current Warriors team. Are the Warriors playoff bound?

Henry Abbott (ESPN True Hoop): Maybe I'm doing that annoying thing sports fans always do -- assuming last year is an excellent guide for the coming year -- but I can't see San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, or Utah missing the playoffs. That means you're in a dog fight with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets, the revamped and better-than-ever Grizzlies, Ron Artest and the Kings, the dinged-up Clippers, the not-so-injured anymore Hornets, and the three talented baby teams: Timberwolves, Sonics, and Blazers (any one of whom could gel ahead of schedule). I'd guess the Warriors would make the top three out of that bunch, but I sure wouldn't get cocky about it. Especially when a huge part of making the playoffs is not getting injured, and your best player has a bad history of getting injured.

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We know Henry is an extremely busy guy over at ESPN. All of us at GSoM want to thank him for taking time out of his day to provide us with some thoughts on our beloved Warriors.

Be sure to make ESPN's TrueHoop a daily visit.

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